Bagpipes for Your Big Day

Bride and groom with hands by their side

Here in Southwestern Ontario (and I’m sure a lot farther afield), wedding show “season” has begun.

If you’re a bride- or groom-to-be, and you’ve thought about having a bagpiper at your wedding, here are my top 6 things you should be considering.

1. Years and level of experience

All bagpipers were not created equally. I have been playing for more than 18 years and have competed for many of them, earning numerous awards and accolades along the way. It’s important that you’ve heard a bagpiper play before hiring them. You can hear samples of my playing in many other posts on this blog, particularly this Thanksgiving-themed post.

2. Bagpipes are not just for funerals

In Scotland, you would be hard pressed to find a wedding that doesn’t have a bagpiper! Contrary to popular belief, upbeat and lively tunes can be played on the bagpipes. For something different for the bride’s walk down the aisle, I would recommend “Highland Cathedral;” for the recessional, “Mairi’s Wedding,” “Highland Wedding” or “Rab’s Wedding;” and for the head table’s reception entrance, “Scotland the Brave.”

If you have a specific tune in mind, I should have access to the sheet music and would be willing to learn it in time for your special day. I have learned “Farewell to Nova Scotia” and “Loch Lomond” for recent gigs.

Young bagpiper at wedding
My first wedding gig. I was 12 years old and had been playing for 5 months.

3. Cue the bagpipes

Whether it’s during your ceremony, reception, or both, bagpipes can fit into your special day. I can play as your guests arrive at the church and/or reception venue, as a musical interlude during the ceremony, as entertainment during cocktail hour, or for traditional Scottish country dances like the “Gay Gordons.” Piping in the head table before dinner is always a treat as well.

My personal favourite is piping the newlyweds out of the ceremony!

4. Less logistics 

With bagpipes, the amplifier is built-in and power man-made. You don’t need to worry about co-ordinating access to electrical outlets or the sight of ugly extension cords ruining your photos. Setup is done in no time. That said, bagpipes are loud and only come with one volume setting. For longer indoor performances, spaces should be on the larger side. If you’re hoping to have a bagpiper for a short performance in a smaller space (such as walking down the aisle), don’t fret, I’ve never had an issue. Of course, outdoors is ideal, as long as it’s not below freezing.

5. Lookin’ good

As any good bagpiper would, I have invested in a well-tailored attire that, by default, means I always look professional at my gigs. I will never show up with an untucked shirt, a wacky tie, wrinkled pants or kilt, or a jacket that doesn’t fit right and looks sloppy.

The tartan of my kilt is Black Stewart. It incorporates black and primary colours (no outlandish greens or oranges here), so it always looks good in photos and blends with whatever your chosen wedding colours are.

6. A “sound” investment

Like most things in life, cheaper isn’t always better. You really do pay for what you get. When you hire a bagpiper like me, one who takes pride in maintaining their instrument, you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth. I take pride in my Scottish heritage and have invested many years into my piping career. I always strive for customer satisfaction.

If these tips haven’t convinced you that a bagpiper like me is right for your special day, or you have any further questions, please let me know. I’m more than happy to chat and help make your day one to remember!

To all the laddies and lassies getting married in 2015 – Sláinte Mhath!

–Andrew

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